Hearts Through History Romance Writers

How I Named My Characters

by | December 13, 2013 | 6 comments

The idea for Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold came from the location of Durango, so looking into Durango history, I chose the 1880s.  To the location and time I added some general plotting.  But a story is told through the character, so they must have names.

I already had the name of my heroine, Julie (a cute blonde girl that I used to work with).  But Julie is not really historical for that time, so making the backstory (all that happens to you character before the book starts that make them who and what they are) that her father was a fan of Shakespeare, so named his daughters Cordelia (King Lear) and Juliette (with Romeo).  I don’t actually say this in the story, so if you caught the Julie and Cory connection – good for you.

Once I had the heroine’s name, I needed a hero for her.  One that would contrast and eventually connect with her character.  My hero’s name is Wes, to underline ‘the west’ where the story takes place (and short and easy to type – always a consideration).  I didn’t want Wes to be short for Wesley (too Princess Bride), so made it a contraction of his last name, Westmoreland.  Again the sub text of connection with the wide open spaces of the west.BCColoradoSilverFinal2a

 Julie’s Uncle Frank is named after a nice guy I used to work with.  Other character names seem to just pop up full blown.  Landham Kennedy, the villain’s name came just that way.  There were a lot of Irish immigrants in the United States which accounts for the Kennedy.  But I don’t think Landham is his real first name, but one he took when he came west.  I see Kennedy and his friend/hanger-on Rickman as hiding their southern roots of being poor white trash.  Both Clare and her brother, Lieutenant Sullivan also had ties to the wave of Irish immigrants in the 1840s. 

Wes’ friend Kate Valdez is obviously part Mexican, which would be realistic for a woman in either California or Colorado.  Kate just sounded like a good, solid name for an old friend.

In case you’re interested, the title comes from the silver and gold mined in Colorado, but also my heroine (with the silver blonde hair) and my hero (with the golden blond hair). 

Do you ever name characters after people you know?


  1. Paula Millhouse

    Hi Terry,

    Love this article on character names. I don’t name characters after people I know, but sometimes I use a combination of traits from people I know to form my characters.

    I love that the names you chose were so inter-connected to the story. I do that too. I like Scrivener’s name generator – it tells me the history of the name and the cultures the names belong to.

    Great post!

  2. Jackie Leigh Allen

    A fun post. As you know I sometimes make the doctors in my story Dr. Allen and give myself a promotion.

  3. Terry irene Blain

    Thanks. Giving characters names is a lot of fun.

  4. Terry Irene Blain

    Jackie, I named the doctor in my last ms. Dr. Allen, in your honor.

  5. Carole St-Laurent

    I love that roundabout way of choosing characters name 🙂

  6. Angelyn

    I love to ski in Durango. Great western setting!



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